Durban diary- snippets from the United Nations climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. Twenty thousand delegates attended the conference but the number of Heads of State has dropped to just 12 from more than 20 last year. But activists were out in force on the streets of Durban in south Africa.

VERY little was expected from the outset at COP17, the United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa.

The number of delegates attending gave a clue.

The 2009 Copenhagen meeting in Denmark was the high-water mark of UN climate conferences with more than 100 Heads of State

The 2009 Copenhagen meeting in Denmark was the high-water mark of UN climate conferences with more than 100 Heads of State or governments attending, including US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. A deal in the end eluded them.

At COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010, more than 20 leaders attended hoping to salvage interest in a ‘climate deal’. But the count in Durban was 12, almost all from Africa.

Demonstrators

In total 20,000 people attended from 194 countries with 7,000 observers, 1,500 media, and 130 government ministers.

European recession, scepticism about man-made climate change and scientific studies suggesting nature may be largely responsible for the earth’s warming have all taken a toll on the view about the runaway effects of greenhouse gases.

But demonstrators and activists wanting to make a point are not losing their energy or interest.

They included non-governmental organisations, organised labour, faith-based organisations, activists and artists and musicians. They took to the streets of Durban seeking ‘climate justice’ from the delegates who were attending the climate change conference.

The number of demonstrators who marched to the International Convention Centre was put at 7,000 and they were escorted by police in full-body armour with a water cannon.

Rallying cry

Some carried banners saying ‘Stop Killing Earth’ and others sought ‘Justice’ or ‘No to Nuclear Energy’. The chant was for ‘Amandla’ - the apartheid-era Zulu rallying cry for power to the people.

This was more of an attempt by the activists to maintain their own faith with a public display than actually making a difference

One activist on the march said it is people power which will bring about change.

NGOs like Green Peace and Canadians for Climate Justice were actively maintaining the rhetoric.

This was more of an attempt by the activists to maintain their own faith with a public display than actually making a difference on the climate of negotiations.

Additional research by Hardev Sanotra

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